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Posted on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

Ann Arbor's 2nd Ward had highest turnout in last week's election

By Ryan J. Stanton

Jane Lumm's ability to get out the vote appears to have contributed to her victory last week in the 2nd Ward race for the Ann Arbor City Council.

The 2nd Ward had the highest turnout among all five city wards, with more than 20 percent of registered voters casting ballots, according to an analysis.

Lumm, who ran as an Independent, ousted Democratic incumbent Stephen Rapundalo by winning in all but two precincts.

Overall, about 11 percent of Washtenaw County's registered voters took part in last week's local elections, the second-lowest turnout in the past six years.

In Ann Arbor, about 13,451 voters — or about 14 percent of those registered — went to the polls. On the ballot were tax proposals, a city charter amendment, school board races and council races.

"For this kind of an election, it was an OK turnout," said County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum. "It was not a high turnout, but it was a lot better than it could have been. There was considerable interest in the city particularly, and the areas that had contested school board races."

In the 1st Ward, turnout was about 7.3 percent with about 1,430 people casting ballots. Turnout was less than 1 percent in some precincts.

In the 3rd Ward, turnout was about 12.8 percent with about 2,351 people casting ballots. Turnout ranged from 1.8 percent in some precincts to 19.1 percent in one precinct.

In the 4th Ward, turnout was about 13.6 percent with about 2,609 people casting ballots. In the 5th Ward, turnout was about 16.9 percent with about 3,573 people casting ballots.

About 3,488 people cast ballots in the 2nd Ward.

The Washtenaw County Clerk's Office reported 27,039 people voted countywide, but that includes 650 ballots from residents in Monroe, Jackson and Wayne counties who voted in school board races in districts that straddle the Washtenaw County line.

Kestenbaum said he doesn't place much value on comparing the actual ballots cast to the number of registered voters because of the amount of "dead wood" on the voter rolls, including people who no longer live in the county and people who haven't voted in decades.

Kestenbaum said he prefers to compare the number of ballots cast to the turnout in the last presidential election. In the case of the November 2008 election, 188,210 people went to the polls in Washtenaw County — more than seven times the amount seen last week.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.


Ed Kimball

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

I'm confused. This article says that 11,100 voters went to the polls. But the election results from on Nov. 8 said that the results on Proposal 1 were Yes 10,345; No 3,038. That's 13,383 votes. Where did the other 2283 votes come from? Were they absentee ballots from voters who didn't "go to the polls"? Even so, they should be counted as part of the turnout percentage. They would bring the turnout percentage to roughly 17% citywide (assuming 11,100 is just over 14%, as stated in the article). In any case, there's a clear discrepancy between today's article and the election results.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

Thanks for catching that. It was a small spreadsheet error. I just fixed it and it's about 13,451 voters that went to the polls.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

The Second Ward race is a great example of political competition being good for a community. Voters focused on the candidates and issues, and then turned out to support them. This type of election was common across the city before City Council elections were moved from April to November. On even numbered years the local races get drowned out by state and federal issues. During odd numbered years, candidates are elected by a very small number of voters. The current system has resulted in lower turnout and voter apathy. Neither is good for the health of the city.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

It's obvious the reason for the voter turn out is thanks to Rapundalo. People were so sick and tired of his arrogant and demeaning way that he had to be voted out. I hope the other council members and mayor learn something from this. It's just a matter of time.

Urban Sombrero

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.

It's really sad that 20-some percent of voters turning out is a record high. It amazes me how few people vote. Even though they're registered.

Stuart Brown

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 6:03 a.m.

It's really like 40% since the number of registered voters includes a lot of people who have moved out of Ann Arbor.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

Tom, I think the best plan is to recruit strong candidates like Jane Lumm, run against each of the current Council Party who are "Snyder Democrats' and take back the City seat by seat, Ward by Ward and then it won't matter who the Mayor is. The recent landslide in Ward 2 is just the shape of things to come.

Stuart Brown

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 3:37 a.m.

Tom, I'd like to see Mike Anglin take on Hieftje in the Democratic primary in 2012. He does not owe his life to the UofM (this rules out Kunselman) and he would have a formidable organization behind him to support his campaign. Jane Lumm's campaign has put together a winning platform with substance; this would be a real race that would be watched closely by voters.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 6:15 a.m.

I doubt Mike Anglin wants to run, however in theory he would be on par with Lumm as a mayoral opponent. Sabra Briere would not want to take on King John, but may be amenable to being his successor as mayor.

Tom Wieder

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:49 a.m.

Roadman - I am an enthusiastic supporter of Jane Lumm. If you think the "smart money" would bet on Jane beating Hieftje in 2012, I think even Jane would take that bet. Do you mean in a Democratic primary, if Jane wanted to try that? Be a bit tough as a former, but long-time Republican, to defeat a six-term incumbent Democrat. Or did you mean in the general election? If that's the case, forget it. Nobody but Democrats wins the city in a Presidential election year. In case you don't know, or forgot, Jane ran as a Republican against Hieftje in 2004, losing to him by 69% to 31%. Might she do better as an independent? Perhaps, but that's a real steep hill to climb, and no one's beaten a Dem incumbent in November in decades. Jane will render excellent service to the city as a Councilwoman. I don't know if Hieftje is vulnerable to defeat in a primary, but it would take an effort by a strong Democratic challenger, at tghe very least.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 6:11 a.m.

Two scenarios, Mr. Wieder: One, Jane runs in the Democratic primary against Hizzoner in August - she has decent shot at beating King John. Two, Jane runs either as a Independent or Republican in the November general election and a liberal third candidate - perhaps a popular local independent or Green Party nominee like, for instance, Steve Bean or Dr. Aimee Smith runs also in November - thereby splitting the substantial progessive vote and giving the mayor's office to Mrs. Lumm. Trust me, there is a big enough anti-Council Party undercurrent running through this town to see Hieftje get the boot by voters.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:41 a.m.

Credit Jane Lumm's campaign organization with their get-out-the-vote effort. No longer does the Ann Arbor Democratic Party have a monopoly on the City Council. Could Jane be planning a run for mayor in 2012? The smart money says in a head-to-head race, she could beat John Hieftje.